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Jeanine M. Davis

In 1991, a four year study was initiated in which staked tomatoes and snap beans are rotated annually and grown with three cover crop treatments (wheat, crimson clover, and bareground) and three N rates (0, 60, and 120 kg N/ha) in a RCB with four replications. Crop growth, yield, nutrient status, N cycling, and pest populations are being studied. The first year there was no response to cover crop. The next two years, crimson clover reduced bean yields due, in part, to high levels of disease. Mexican bean beetle populations were also highest with clover and increased with increasing N rate. In 1992, wheat increased tomato fruit crack, but there was no effect on yields. In 1993, wheat reduced early season tomato yields but had no effect on total season yields. Aphid populations were highest on tomatoes grown with crimson clover. The study reveals that cover crop systems are dynamic and long-term studies are required before dependable grower recommendations can be made. This study is part of the Tri-State Vegetable Project, a cooperative research project with N.C., S.C. and Ga.

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L.P. Baldridge and S.E. Newman

Most field production of woody ornamental plants involves clean cultivation of rows, performed by either mechanical or chemical means. Grass cover has been shown to reduce erosion, but may have a detrimental effect on the growth and vigor of young trees. Clover cover has been shown to not adversely affect plant growth. The objective of this study was to compare the relative merits of three row covers, clean cultivated, pine bark mulch and kobe lespedeza clover, in combination with two irrigation rates, low and high, on field-grown red bud and crape myrtle plants.

Crape myrtle and red bud plants were tallest and had a larger caliper when grown with a clean row or with pine bark mulch. Kobe lespedeza clover reduced plant growth of both species when supplemental irrigation was not provided. Clover reduced plant height and caliper of red bud even when irrigated. Generally, plants grown under pine bark mulch were more efficient in water use as shown by greater stomatal conductance in August.

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Emmanuel Genio, Tom Garrett, Greg Hoyt, Gary Wells, Larry Bauer, Dean Batal, Doug Sanders and Contact G. Wells

The cost-effectiveness of using winter cover crops to reduce nitrogen leaching was estimated. Costs were based on cucumber and sweetpotato grown in rotation, three fertilizer application levels (0, 60, and 120 kg N/ha), and three winter covers (weeds/bare, wheat, and clover). Soil N was measured in 15-cm intervals to a depth of 90 cm at the 1993 harvest and 1994 planting. The cover crop biomass was also analyzed. Nitrogen trapping by wheat and clover was compared to bare ground with adjustment for N fixing by clover. Four scenarios—sweetpotato/both covers/high N and cucumber/wheat cover/low and medium N—yielded increased leaching compared to their bare ground counterparts. Leaching prevented from the other scenarios ranged from 1.07 to 20.11 kg·ha–1. Costs, yields, and vegetable prices were used to calculate profit changes from the bare ground method on a dollar/kg basis. Profit changes ranged from negative $2372.74/kg for cucumber/wheat cover/high fertilizer to the only positive change of $16.53 for sweetpotato/clover/medium fertilizer. Negative costs resulted from yield increases when nonwinter weed covers were used.

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Aref A. Abdul-Baki and John R. Teasdale

Hairy vetch, subterranean clover, polyethylene black mulch (PBM), and Horto paper were evaluated in field-grown fresh market production of tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill), cv `Sunny'. Plant mulches were grown in beds in the fall, mowed immediately before planting, and the tomato seedlings were planted without tillage in a low input system. Yields (t.ha-1) for hairy vetch, subterranean clover, PBM, Horto paper, and no mulch were 72.1, 46.6, 59.9, 54.0, and 29.8, respectively. Although the tomato plants grown under plant mulches received 50% of the recommended fertilizer application, they produced more vigorous plants than those in other treatments. Plant mulches were effective in controlling growth of weeds and infestation by Colorado potato beetle.

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Nancy G. Creamer, Mark A. Bennett, Benjamin R. Stinner, John Cardina and Emilie E. Regnier

Field and laboratory studies were conducted to investigate the mechanisms of weed suppression by cover crops. High-performance liquid chromatograph analysis and a seed germination bioassay demonstrated that rye (Secale cereale L.) can be leached of its allelochemicals, redried, and used as an inert control for separating physical suppression from other types of interference. In a field study, rye, crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), and a mixture of the four species suppressed the emergence of eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum Dun.). Crimson clover inhibited the emergence of eastern black nightshade beyond what could be attributed to physical suppression alone. The emergence of yellow foxtail [Setaria glauca (L.) Beauv.] was inhibited by rye and barley but not by the other cover crops or the cover crop mixture.

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Julia Whitworth

The usefulness of cover crops for weed management in strawberries were evaluated. Wheat (Triticum aestevum L.), rye (Secale cereale L.), and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) were grown in individual pots then killed by tillage or herbicide and followed in the same pots by plantings of bermuda grass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.), crabgrass [Digitaria ischaemum (Schreb.) Schreb. ex Muhl.], or strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa `Cardinal'). Rye and wheat tilled into the medium generally increased the growth of strawberries and decreased the growth of bermuda grass. Rye and wheat residues appeared to suppress growth of weeds and strawberries when the residues remained on the medium surface. Crimson clover had little affect on the growth of weeds or strawberries. Yellow nutsedge and crabgrass were not significantly affected by cover crop residues.

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A. Shiferaw, M.W. Smith, R.D. Eikenbary and Don C. Arnold

Perennial legume ground covers were evaluated to supply N and increase beneficial arthropod densities in pecan orchards. Treatments were pure stands and a mixture of `Kenland' red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) and `Louisiana S-l' white clover (Trifolium repense L.). The control plot was a grass sod. Nitrogen was applied at 0 to 200 kg·ha–1 in 50-kg intervals to the trees in the grass plots, but no N was applied to the legume plots. Aphids and beneficial arthropods were monitored in legumes and pecan canopies. Beneficial arthropods monitored were Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae, Nabis, Syrphid, and spiders. The most abundant beneficial arthropods were spiders, Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae, and Nabis respectively. In pecan canopies, spiders, Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae were the most abundant. The legumes supplied ≤156 kg N/ha to the pecan trees.

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K.M. Batal, D.R. Decoteau, D.M. Granberry, B.G. Mullinix, D.C. Sanders, G.D. Hoyt and R.J. Dufault

Pepper and sweet corn were tested in a rotation with crimson clover and velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens) cover crops at different locations in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina from 1995 to 1996. Vegetable production with minimum-till following the cover crops was compared with two different conventional methods (following rye cover or fallow). All minimum-till/cover crop treatments caused reduction of total number of pepper fruit, compared to the conventional methods. Effects on premium grade (Fancy + U.S. #1) were similar to the effects on total fruit. The highest percentage of premium grade was produced by both conventional methods in 1996. Sweet corn responded similarly to these treatments in 1995. However, in 1996, clover plots had corn yields nearly as good as the conventional plots. As in bell pepper, plots with velvet bean cover produced lower yield in 1996. Treatment effects on number of marketable corn were the same as the effects on total ears produced.

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N.G. Creamer, M.A. Bennett, J. Cardina and E.E. Regnier

Little research has been conducted to quantify allelopathic suppression of weeds in the field. The objectives of this study were to develop an adequate control for separating physical from allelochemical effects, use the control to quantify allelochemical suppression in the field, and determine whether a mixture of cover crops would provide a broader spectrum of weed control than single species. Hairy vetch, rye, crimson clover, and barley were cut into 5-cm pieces, shaken in distilled water (pH 6) to leach allelochemicals, and redried. A seed germination bioassay confirmed that leached cover crops were nontoxic to germinating seeds. Physical suppression of Eastern black nightshade by the four cover crop species occurred in the field study, as did allelochemical suppression by crimson clover. Only rye physically suppressed yellow foxtail, and none of the cover crops suppressed yellow foxtail allelochemically.

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Kathryn E. Brunson, Sharad C. Phatak, J. Danny Gay and Donald R. Summer

Velvetbean (Mucuna deeringiana L.) was used in crop rotation to determine the influence on southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) in sustainable vegetable production. Replicated trials were conducted at four locations. Two cover crop treatments, crimson clover and subterranean clover, were used in the sustainable plots and rye was the plow-down cover crop for the conventional plots. Selected as the vegetable crops were tomato, pepper, and eggplant. Following the final harvest, velvetbean was planted into the sustainable plots and disked under after 90 days. Results from soil samples before and after velvetbean, indicated the sustainable plots had substantially reduced nematode densities, while most conventional plots showed increases. A correlation between location, treatment, root-gall indexes and nematode density occurred in all crops for 1992. In 1993 there was only a correlation between root-gall index and nematode density in pepper. However, root-gall indexes were significant for location and treatment in all crops.